Emmanuel Macron, the French President, appeared to win reelection comfortably Sunday, polling agencies predicted. This gave France and the European Union the assurance of leadership stability in the bloc’s only nuclear-armed power, as the continent struggles with the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
A second five-year term for Macron — if confirmed by official results later Sunday — would spare France and its allies in Europe and beyond the seismic upheaval of a wartime shift of power to Macron’s far-right nationalist challenger Marine Le Pen, who quickly acknowledged her defeat.
Her campaign had pledged to dilute French ties with the 27-nation EU, the NATO military alliance and Germany, moves that would have shaken Europe’s security architecture as the continent deals with its worst conflict since World War II. Le Pen spoke out against the imposition of sanctions on Russian energy supplies, and was also scrutinized for her past friendliness to the Kremlin.
Polling agencies’ projections, released as the last voting stations closed, said Macron was on course to beat Le Pen by a double-digit margin. Five years ago, Macron won a sweeping victory over Le Pen to become France’s youngest president at 39. It is likely that the margin will be much smaller this time. Polling agencies Opinionway Harris and Ifop predicted that the pro-European centrist of 44 years would win at least 57%.
Le Pen was expected to win between 41.5% support and 43% support, a record for the 53 year-old in her third attempt at winning the French presidency.
Le Pen called her results “a shining victory,” saying that “in this defeat, I can’t help but feel a form of hope.”
Jean-Luc Melenchon from the hard-left, who was third in the first round on April 10, and was one of 10 candidates eliminated that day, quickly pitched for France’s June legislative election and urged voters to give them a majority in parliament to weaken Macron.
On Sunday night, early official results will be available.
If the projections hold, Macron would become only the third president since the 1958 founding of modern France to win twice at the ballot box, and the first in 20 years, since incumbent Jacques Chirac trounced Le Pen’s father in 2002.
Le Pen’s score this time rewarded her year-long efforts to make her far-right politics more palatable to voters. Her campaigning on cost-of living issues was a success. She gained support from blue-collar voters in rural communities and ex-industrial centers.